Friday, October 21, 2016

Le Mont Saint-Michel Revisited

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France

The Archangel Michael told Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, to build a great abbey on a tall rock island out in the tidal flat. Aubert hesitated and Michael appeared to him again. But the stone needed to build the abbey was in quarries miles away, the island was out in the bay, and the bay had 12-foot tides. When the Archangel came a third time, he pushed his finger into Aubert’s skull, and Aubert built the abbey on top of the rock island—literally on top. He did not have the pinnacle knocked off to create a flat space to build upon. No, he built up the island and created a great flat space for a large church, a banqueting hall, and a cloister, all up at the level of the island’s pinnacle stone wrestled into place with oxen and vast human labor, as things were done one thousand years ago.

Mont Saint-Michel took generations to complete. It became one of the great Christian strongholds of the Middle Ages. Many stories and important people are wound into its history. Fortunately, we have the great American historian Henry Adams to collect and tell those stories in his timeless Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, recently blogged here.

Since then, a friend and I visited the island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and have these photographs to share.

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